wikiHow to Be Healthier Without a Dramatic Lifestyle Change

Three Methods:Planning for a Healthier LifestyleChanging Your Eating HabitsAdding in Physical Activity

Many diet or exercise programs require major lifestyle changes, long-term commitments and or pricey products or equipment. For a lot people, these programs are not reasonable or even affordable. In addition, studies have shown that drastic or large lifestyle changes or changes that aren't realistic are not easily maintained long-term.[1] However, making smaller lifestyle changes over long periods of time may be easier, more affordable and more enjoyable for many people.

Method 1
Planning for a Healthier Lifestyle

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    Make an appointment with your doctor. If you feel there are some small changes that you need or want to make in your life to be healthier, it wouldn't hurt to see your doctor prior to making any changes.
    • They can review your medical history, weight and let you know what changes might be the most beneficial to you.
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    Set goals for yourself. Small goals are often the most appealing as they are the easiest to reach. If your goals are too high and you are unable to reach them in a timely manner, you may become discouraged. Set small goals that ultimately lead up to your larger goal. It will help provide you with the motivation to make and keep lifestyle changes.
    • When setting your goals make sure they are realistic, timely, and specific. These qualities make goals that are easier to meet in the long-term. For example, instead of a goal of "I want to boost my endurance," make your goal "I want to be able to swim 5 laps in my pool without needing to stop."
    • Also consider whether you need smaller goals to meet a larger, more long-term goal. For example, if you want to run five miles, you might make a goal to run a 5k (which is 3.1 miles) as an intermediary goal.
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    Write down realistic lifestyle changes. Remember that too many lifestyle changes at once is a recipe for failure. It is important that you only try to implement so many changes at once. Think about what lifestyle changes you need to make in order to achieve your goals. If you don't think you'll be willing to make the lifestyle changes needed to meet your goal, revisit your goals and change them as needed.
    • Lifestyle changes are small changes in behavior that may result in improved health or well-being. Studies show that small lifestyle changes over long periods of time are more sustainable.[2]
    • Examples of lifestyle changes include: replacing desserts with fruit or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
    • The lifestyle changes you want to make may also help you make, change, or come up with additional goals. For example, you might want to eat healthier. A goal could be to eat a fruit or vegetable every day.
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    Assign a timeline for your lifestyle changes. Even with small lifestyle changes, trying to accomplish multiple items at one time can be difficult and hard to keep up with.[3] Assigning your lifestyle changes to an ordered timeline can help you be more successful. Try to note which changes you'll make first, second, third, etc.
    • After you've come up with your goals and the lifestyle changes to help you meet them, assign an order to your list. For example: Week 1: Give up soda; Week 2: Take the stairs instead of the elevator; Week 3: Go to bed earlier.
    • Continuously reevaluate your progress. If you notice one lifestyle change in particular is giving you trouble, rework your timeline to account for that. Give yourself time to make these changes a habit. Again, if you try to work on multiple items at one time, you may be less successful.
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    Find support. It is much easier to stick to a plan when others know you're doing it. Get a support system and lean on them when necessary. Telling family, friends or coworkers about your new lifestyle changes may help keep you motivated.[4]
    • It's also helpful to surround yourself with people who are also on the same path as you making small lifestyle changes to help improve their health. You can bounce ideas off each other or work on similar goals at the same time.

Method 2
Changing Your Eating Habits

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    Drink more water. A common goal to improve your overall health is to ditch the sugary drinks and increase water intake. This is a great goal as water is essential to your hydration and health.[5] Increasing water consumption is a virtually free and painless way to instantly make a positive change for yourself.
    • Your long-term goal should be to drink about 64 oz or 2 L of clear, sugar-free fluids every day.[6]
    • Ditch sweetened beverages. Drinking more water is great, but skipping the sweetened beverages will help reduce your overall calorie intake and promote weight loss.[7]
    • If you're not drinking a lot of water now, start slowly. Add in one glass or one bottle of water every day. Or, swap out one soda or one energy drink for an equivalent amount of water. Slowly increase the amount of water you drink and decrease a number of sweetened beverages you drink.
    • Don't drink your fruits. Give up drinking fruit juice and get all those wonderful nutrients from real, whole fruit. You'll get the added benefit of having the fiber from the fruit in addition to missing out on the liquid calories of fruit juice.
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    Drink water before a meal. While you are increasing the amount of water you drink, you can also be strategic about when you drink it. Drinking a big glass of water (about eight oz) right before a meal or snack can help decrease your overall portion size and how many calories you consume.[8]
    • Try to make it a habit to drink water right before you eat. When you're stomach is more full on water, it can help decrease your hunger. This may lead to or help support your weight loss.
    • You can also consume other no-calorie beverages including: sugar-free, flavored waters, coffee, tea, no-calorie sports drinks, and even low sodium broth.
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    Eat a fruit and vegetable every day. Eating enough fruits and vegetables is key for a healthy lifestyle and diet since these foods are essential sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, eating the recommended seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables everyday may be daunting or difficult.[9]
    • If you're not a big fruit or vegetable eater, make a list of your top five favorite fruits and vegetables. Start by adding in just one serving of fruit or vegetables a day. As you get comfortable with this goal, add two servings a day.
    • If you dislike a variety of fruits and vegetables, go to the grocery and pick out something new or unfamiliar to you. Or try an item that you haven't had in a while.
    • Keep fresh fruit on the counter and vegetables cut, washed, and ready to eat in the fridge. The less preparation needed, the more likely you'll include them in your diet.
    • If you enjoy a sweet after dinner, try having fruit with your dessert.
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    Choose whole grains most of the time. Whole grains are minimally processed grains that are higher in fiber, protein, and other nutrients compared to refined grains (like white bread or plain pasta).[10] They also have a more nutty flavor and chewy texture which may not be enjoyable by all people.
    • If you typically eat mostly refined grains, start with making about 1/2 of your grain choices whole grains. As you get more comfortable with this goal, you can work up to making most or all of your grain choices whole grains.
    • Whole grain foods to try include: 100% whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice or 100% whole wheat bread.
    • Try a variety of whole grains and a variety of brands of whole grains. For example, try 100% whole wheat pasta. If you don't like it, try another brand of 100% whole wheat pasta as each brand has a slightly different flavor.
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    Eat healthy snacks. Making lifestyle changes to be healthier doesn't mean you can't enjoy a snack. In fact, having a snack can help manage and control hunger and support weight loss.[11]
    • Healthy snacks should contain some lean protein and a fruit or a vegetable. However, start slowly changing your snacks for a lasting change. For example, if you normally have a small bag of chips in the afternoon try swapping to a small bag of whole grain chips with salsa.
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    Pack your lunch. Studies show that packing your lunch can help cut down on your overall calorie intake (and food costs).[12] Brown-bagging your lunch will give you more control over what foods you eat and how they're prepared.
    • If you typically eat lunch out everyday, start by packing your lunch just one to two days a week.
    • Also pack an afternoon snack if you typically stop by the vending machine to grab an afternoon pick-me-up.

Method 3
Adding in Physical Activity

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    Walk more throughout the day. Finding time to exercise can be difficult, especially with busy schedules or long commutes. Start adding in physical activity by increasing how many steps or how much you walk during the day.
    • Increasing physical activity is a great change to make to help improve your overall health. Exercise has been shown to help improve mood, increase energy, and decrease your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.[13]
    • Even without planned exercise each day, adding extra steps can be beneficial to your health. Try: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking father away, delivering messages in person instead of email at work, walking while you talk on the phone, or take a walk on your lunch break.
    • You can also consider purchasing a pedometer to help see how many steps you take and monitor your progress of increasing your total steps.
    • Try the "one mile rule." This means that you can walk to the store, school, work or other locations if they are less than one mile away (and it's a safe walk). Skip taking the bus or driving!
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    Add in planned cardio. Additional exercise outside of lifestyle activity (like taking the stairs), greatly adds to the health benefits provided by exercise. Plan cardio so that you're getting targeted exercise that benefits your heart and overall health. You'll see additional improvements in weight, mood and overall health.[14]
    • The USDA states that you should aim for 150 minutes or about 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.[15] Moderate intensity activity is any exercise that increases your heart rate and makes you breathe harder and work up a slight sweat.
    • If this recommendation is too much, start with half of that amount. Or break up that time in small bits. For example, a brisk 10-minute walk at breakfast, lunch and dinner five days a week meets your 150-minute goal.
    • Also, if you cannot do moderate intensity at first, do 150 minutes of lower intensity exercises. For example, walking counts as a lower intensity exercise. Any activity is better than none.
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    Add in some resistance training. Not all strength training exercises require you to spend time at the gym. There are plenty of easy to do exercises at home that require little to no equipment.
    • It's recommended to include 20 minutes of strength training two days a week. Including strength training helps build lean muscle mass which can increase your metabolism and how many calories your body burns at rest.[16]
    • Easy, no equipment required exercises include: lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, or wall sits.
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    Look for social, fun exercise opportunities. Go to the pool with your little brother, take a walk with your best friend, chase your daughter around the playground, or play backyard sports with your family.
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    Move while you watch TV. If you aren't ready for the gym or more intense exercise, try moving while you watch your favorite TV programs. Get up during the commercial breaks and fit in a few minutes of activity.
    • Try running or walking in place, or some strength training exercises. Since commercial breaks are about two minutes, you can burn about 270 calories during two hours of TV time.[17]
    • Sit on an exercise ball in front of your desk or TV.


  • Talk to your doctor prior to making any major dietary changes. Also talk to your doctor prior to starting an exercise program. It's important to know whether or not these changes are safe and healthy for you.
  • Play a sport that you enjoy. Exercising definitely doesn't have to be a chore!
  • Once you have reached your goal, don't go back to your old habits. It will make all the work you just did go to waste.
  • Minimize food-related rewards for your efforts. If you give yourself too many, you may counteract your hard work.

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Categories: Diet & Lifestyle | Health